Following the service entry of Airbus next generation super transporter, the BelugaXL, earlier in the month, the European manufacturer now invites to “enter the cockpit” of its “smiling whale”.

The BelugaXL, just like its predecessors, is used by Airbus to transport large aircraft components across its production sites in Europe. For instance, it can carry a set of A350XWB wings or the largest fuselage section with “room to spare”, according to the company. 

While Airbus, which has manufacturing sites in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, uses other forms of transportation (by road, rail and sea) as well, air transport unsurprisingly is the “primary method” preferred by the aircraft manufacturer.

Airbus super transporters essentially are highly modified twin-engine A330 airliners, tracking their beginnings to the company’s “cornerstone” A300 aircraft. The BelugaXL, the first of which entered service earlier in January 2020, is a successor to the previous version the BelugaST.

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Eventually, five more “smiling whales” will join the newest oversize cargo airlifter. But until that happens, both BelugaXLs and STs will be flying until mid-2023, the company estimates. The second XL is expected to be delivered in mid-2020, followed by a third in early 2021.

“With 30% more capacity than the existing BelugaST, it really will help us to better support the production ramp-up for A350 XWBs and the single-aisle A320 Family,” according to Philippe Sabo, the head of oversized air transport at Airbus Transport International (ATI) - an Airbus subsidiary, which manages all Beluga operations.

“And its high-speed cargo loading system means we can significantly reduce turnaround times – something which is key to achieving our targets,” Sabo also said, as quoted in a statement by Airbus.